Archive for March, 2013

LAZARUS

Friday, March 22nd, 2013

Jesus raising of Lazarus from the dead was a deep prefigurement of His own impending agony and death and His ultimate triumph over death. There is a deep sense in this event that Jesus is preparing His disciples for His own ultimate death.

Martha on greeting Jesus was full of her own grief and need and was almost chastising Jesus for not being around when He was most needed. “Lord if You had been here my brother would not have died.” Even Jesus answer to her, “Your brother will rise again”, did not put her off. “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day”. She could not really comprehend the wonder of who stood before her or the full depth of His authority and power. He said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life, he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die.”

Jesus then raised Lazarus, four days dead, from the tomb. But what were the depths of that which Jesus revealed here to those who witnessed this event? And what message can we take to ourselves about Jesus love and power and authority?

To me the deepest message is that our lives are not our own. No matter what we think about our lives and who we think we are, there is a power greater than ourselves, and that power is Jesus. All who witnessed this event saw that their very own life depended on Jesus Himself as to whether they lived or died. Lazarus himself knew with a certainty beyond words that Jesus both loved him and wanted him to have life, and perhaps more deeply that his life was not his own but truly, completely, was beyond his own power or authority. Jesus revealed that He was indeed the Lord of his life. I don't think we can begin to comprehend the depth of the reality of Lazarus's knowledge of Jesus love and power over him and his knowledge that here before him was the owner and lover of his life.

This is the wonder that I take from this passage of scripture. I am not my own. My life is hidden in Christ. It is not on the last day that we are risen up with Him, but today. Today my life is not my own, today I can know that He is the owner and possessor of my soul. Today I can be guided and filled with the knowledge of His power and love. Today I can know, like Lazarus, that Jesus love is raising me up to life in Him.

My heart is stammering to express the wonder that Lazarus must have felt looking at the Lord of life who had command and authority and power and love over his life. What ponderings of heart must Lazarus have had looking into the eyes of the man who held absolute power over his very life.

The other interesting aspect of this event is that even this act was not sufficient for the disciples to believe that Jesus would be raised from the dead Himself. For after He was raised and the woman told the apostles they did not believe.

The reason I find this interesting is that so many Christians today read the gospel stories and are convinced of their own belief. But how real is that belief? The disciples were men like us and saw many signs and wonders and knew Jesus, deeply, intimately and lovingly yet in the events that they were faced with they found it impossible to fully believe.

How can we be any different? Full belief is a difficult painful journey that few really find. “The road is narrow which leads to life and few there are who find it.” So I think it incumbent on us who have not witnessed the events proclaimed to be wary of declaring our faithfulness, but rather we need to take to heart the difficult task of fully trusting. Pondering how Lazarus must have felt is not a bad place to start.

The New Testament

Thursday, March 14th, 2013

The New Testament is not the the collected gospels along with Acts, the letters of Paul, Hebrews, James, Jude, Peter and John and Revelation. These only proclaim the New Testament. The New Testament is Christ Himself giving us new life through His blood.

A testament is not a group of books, but it is that which is bequeathed by someone on their death. Jesus desire was that we might have life in Him through His death and the shedding of His blood. At the last supper He said “This cup which is poured out for you is the New Testament in my blood.”

The church venerates the book more than they venerate the Lord even though He said concerning the scriptures, “You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life and it is these that speak of Me and you are unwilling to come to Me that you may have life.” He also said “Come to Me all who are weary and heavy-laden and I will give you rest.” To the woman at the well He said, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is who says to you, 'Give Me a drink', you would have asked Him and He would have given you living water.” and of this living water He says “ whoever drinks of the water that I shall give them shall never thirst, but the water that I shall give him shall become in him a well springing up to eternal life.”

Jesus is the New Testament not the words of scripture. It is not how we understand the words that gives us life, but He alone must do a work in us. The work He does in us is accomplished through His cross. By being joined to Him in His death, in baptism, we may be raised with Him to life. As Jesus says, “The way to life is narrow and few there are who find it.”

The trouble with those in the church is that all too often they take the words which are spoken in scripture and attempt to apply them to their lives by their own understanding and through this believe that they have life. What they need though is not words but power, the power of God, His holy Spirit, lifting them up to life in Christ.

To receive eternal life you must come to the Lord with a heart meet for His dwelling. This of necessity is a heart turned away from every other pursuit, for the entrance into heaven is for us to conform to the likeness of His death that we might attain to the resurrection from the dead.

The church is full of the copies of His words – the scriptures, but empty of the copies of His life. That is those who are being transformed into the image of His life, through their dying with Him to sin. It was not the words of men that impressed Paul but their power.

Paul wrote concerning the Corinthians, “You are our letter, written in our hearts , known and read by all men, being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, served by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of God, not on tablets of stone, but on tablets of human hearts. And such confidence we have through Christ toward God, not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate servants of a New Testament not of the letter but of the Spirit, for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”

When Paul wrote these words the letter which kills was referring to the Old Testament, but the church keeps this error alive, for it reads the works of the New Testament in the same way the Jews read the works of the Old Testament. The church creates a theology to live by in the same manner as the Pharisees and Sadducees and they likewise fail to come to Jesus agonizing to enter by the narrow gate into life.

Those in the church have condemned themselves for they declare His words to be true but through their deeds reveal themselves to be dead to His Spirit! Hence the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

The church would be better off to get rid of its copies of the New Testament scriptures and instead be filled with living copies of Jesus through the New Testament of His blood.